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Red Hat may abandon Windows rival plan

Red Hat Inc may abandon plans to introduce a version of Linux that it said would offer many of the bells and whistles incorporated into Microsoft’s Windows operating systems for personal desktop computers.

Red Hat Chief Technology Officer Brian Stevens said in an interview on Tuesday that the company has yet to decide whether the market is ripe for the product, originally slated to be introduced in developing countries in August 2007.

The software maker is in talks with potential partners in countries including India, where Red Hat hopes to sell the software to small and mid-sized businesses, he said. Those companies would sell and support the software.

“It’s one of those things. It’s worse to sell 100,000 units than to sell zero because of the commitment you make,” he said. “Right now we are sizing the global opportunity.”

Red Hat is the world’s largest company that sells Linux software. While its programs are widely used on server computers, its products for PCs are generally only used on high-end machines such as workstations used by architects.

The new product, dubbed Red Hat Global Desktop Linux, was designed for PCs used by ordinary office workers and consumers.

Besides Microsoft’s Windows, Red Hat’s delayed PC software would also compete with other versions of the open-source Linux operating system, including Novell Inc’s Suse and Ubuntu, a widely used version of Linux developed by millionaire Mark Shuttleworth.